by Philo Hagen
Recently while perusing the latest updates in my Facebook news feed one morning, a post from a relatively new hooper scrolled up, one who has asked to remain anonymous. Her status update shared with her friends that she was now a full-fledged “hooping addict”, a statement that put a little smile on my face because I certainly know the feeling. It’s a great one. When I went to leave a comment to congratulate her, however, a couple of her friends were busy sharing their concerns for her mental and spiritual health and well being. One stated, and I quote, “God destroys idols. He is the great iconoclast. Even good things can become idols, and while reveling and boasting seem good at the time, it is a grave disservice to idolize anything or anybody. The result is God’s wrath, on you and the idol. God will not be eclipsed.”
I almost spewed the cereal I was eating all over my laptop. When I privately asked her if she was okay with what was happening, she said that she mostly was, but that it was challenging and difficult. The word “addict” is a term that gets tossed around in our community from time to time. The Hoopaholics in Australia aren’t seriously addicted, it’s another expression of joy and love. As for my new hoop friend, neither of us believed she was going to hold up a highway convenience store at gun point for some polypro. She wasn’t going to skip work to stay home and hula hoop. Later on in the day our discussion got me thinking though. What is the barometer for hoop addiction anyway? Could I be a hoop addict? If I was would that be a bad thing? I proceeded to find out.
Psychologist Yun Hoi writes, “‘Positive Addiction’ is a very useful concept. As a psychologist, I find it is beneficial to both those with, and those without, current problems in living. It is especially beneficial, however, to those in any sort of rut.” A rut, eh? I was certainly in a rut when I discovered hooping. The hoop spun me out of that rut and right back into the center of myself and my life again.
He also writes, “We all know what comprises addiction. Addiction is, in common usage, a harmful, socially disapproved and often illegal activity engaged in so as to quickly meet one’s needs without real effort in any long term and constructive relationships or without any effort to develop oneself to be a better person or assist others. Most addictions occur in a relationship chain which is exploitive and harmful to others as well as the end-user. Addictions can be focused on activities as well as substances. The commonly used term ‘addiction’ actually ought, more properly, to be called ‘negative addiction’, as some addictions can be beneficial rather than destructive. ‘Positive Addiction’ is a notion developed by US psychiatrist Dr. Bill Glasser in 1976. He felt that it is possible to become addicted to positive behavior, which develops the character and the body – for instance, running, aerobics, bike-riding.. The list can be added to by you as long as the activity meets seven criteria and doesn’t become negative in that it impacts negatively on your health, work or relationships.”
What are the seven criteria for positive addiction?
1) It is something non-competitive that you choose to do and you can devote approximately forty-five minutes to an hour a day to.
2) It is possible for you to do it easily, in the sense of organizing to do it, and it doesn’t take a great deal of mental effort to do it.
3) You can do it alone (more rarely with others) – but independently of others – not depending on their presence or encouragement to continue.
4) You believe it has some value (physical, mental, or spiritual) for you.
5) You believe that if you persist at it you will improve but this is completely subjective – you need to be the only one who measures that improvement.
6) The activity must be one you can perform without negatively criticizing yourself.
7) It must be undertaken several times a week until you reach “the PA state”.
Glasser called this “PA state” or Positive Addiction state a place that was enjoyable without excessive concentration, a “Zen-like”, “zone”, or “transcendental” state in which you simply and relaxedly do something automatically without effort or concern and that this state energizes you to meet your needs. Could he be referring to some of us refer to as “flow” I wonder?
If something in your life meets these seven criteria, like hooping does in mine, he warns that once a person becomes addicted they may become agitated if they don’t get to do it. I long ago realized that when I don’t take time to hoop in my life I “feel it. I think I’m going to have to say, “My name is Philo, and I am a hoop addict.” Truth is, however, I’m quite pleased about it.
One of the benefits of positive addictions too can be that they are awesome for helping one overcome a negative addiction. Replacing a negative addiction with a positive one can truly help you lead a happier and healthier life. In my life, I’d quit smoking a few months before I discovered myself in the hoop. Is it possible that hooping has been my unknowing substitute for nicotine all these years? If that’s the case I’ll gladly take hooping any and every day. It’s not expensive, I can breathe, I’m in better health and I feel better. And I mean that emotionally too. My feelings are here and I can feel them and hooping helps me live there. It all makes for a much more vibrant and beautiful life and as Kevin Kinchen once said, “The more you meditate, the less you will need to medicate.” I think we can say that is true for hooping as well.
Philo Hagen is the Co-founder and Managing Editor of Hooping.org. He lives in Los Angeles, California.